Is there any way to kill ragweed??

reddingAugust 5, 2011

Does anyone have a magic trick for discouraging ragweed, short of actually digging it up? Not only is it coming up all over the pasture where the sheep won't eat it, but I'm also allergic to it and get contact dermatitis when I touch it. I've tried spraying it, but it only works briefly and then it's right back again. There is no possible way I can manage to even dig the heavy roots out of the garden, not to mention anyplace else on the property. If anyone knows how I can eradicate it, or even slow it down, I'd sure appreciate the tip.


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Roundup, blow torch, maybe some bleach, agent orange,...

If any of those work, let me know!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 11:45PM
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I use Round Up or 24D on most any plant I want to kill.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 1:06AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

In garden beds, I hand dig it out. Sometimes it takes several years of persistent digging.

In the pastures, if you keep it mowed very short all the time that will discourage it, but it won't eliminate it.

Some ragweed has developed a tolerance of many herbicides, so you may or may not have luck with them. I'd ask the knowledgeable folks at the local feed store because if there is any herbicide that controls ragweed in range land, they'll know what it is.

You might try smothering it by putting several layers of thick cardboard on top of it and piling sheep manure on top. You also could use old straw, hay, etc. By the time the thick cardboard decomposes, the soil in the ragweed area will be vastly improved and that alone will help with the ragweed. Ragweed thrives in poor, compacted soil with low fertilitiy, which is why I suggested the sheep manure. The combination of cardboard and sheep manure ought to attract earthworms which will help improve the soil. As the soil improves, the ragweed doesn't grow as well. This process can take several years, but as the soil improves the range land grasses will thrive and the ragweed won't.

It is too bad the sheep won't eat ragweed because it is pretty high in protein and is a good forage crop, especially for white-tail deer.

I am pretty sure OSU has a fact sheet on controlling ragweed in pastures, so I'll find it and link it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ragweed Management in Range Land

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 9:07AM
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Will goats eat it?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 1:41PM
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I will post a link to a Kansas site I refer to for chemical controls of problem weeds. Back when I was doing spraying I relied on it a lot. The control methods listed on it are very similar to what the OSU site Dawn posted states. Tigerdawn I know that my sisters neighbors goats eat the kind we have here. There are several different versions and some could be more palatable. I'm not sure. Jay

Here is a link that might be useful: Ragweed control

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 2:30PM
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Dawn and Jay, many thanks for those links. I've tried Round-Up and might as well have saved my money and work. Several others have done no better. Next year I'll go for the 2-4D and use it early on to see if I can't knock it down some. Is it readily available at a farm supply? I think maybe I've seen it at Atwood's recently.

I have large areas of the pasture that are wasted because of ragweed, and I particularly don't want it in the garden or around any of the hose bibs, where it thrives. I wear shorts and sandals all summer long (don't we all?) and walking through it or brushing up against it does rude things to the skin on my legs and feet. It does a chemical-burn thing that I could easily live without.

If I had goats or cattle that would eat it, that would be another thing, but the sheep won't go near it, even though they prefer forbs over grasses. Just not that particular one. Next spring the ragweed war is on for sure!

I suppose it could be worse. I could have the truly nasty star thistle or something similar growing out there. Makes me shudder to think of it.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:10PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


2-4-D products are easy to find, but I don't know the names of any of the ones commercially available because I don't use chemical herbicides. I don't think you'll have any trouble finding a herbicide with 2-4-D in it.

No, I don't wear sandals here at home. Maybe a couple of times a year I'll wear them if we go to Dallas or something. We just have too many scorpions, rattlesnakes and fire ants among other pests, and something will bite my foot within 5 minutes of walking out the door if I am wearing sandals. I don't even buy them anymore, and I miss them, but sturdy hiking boots or athletic shoes are much more practical where we live.

It doesn't matter what we have in our pasture (we had a patch of ragweed that I left for the deer, but it is dead now) at the present time because 95% of it is brown, dormant or dead, and crunchy and on the verge of crumbling if touched. It will be interesting to see what comes back next year---and what doesn't. With only 12" of rain so far this year, I think I may get to determine if exceptional drought and insane heat will kill ragweed. Somehow I doubt it, but it's nice to think that it might.

We have a couple of thistles here on our property, but they don't seem to reseed and spread. I like thistles, but then I'm just a contrary gardener sometimes.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 1:21AM
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I would suggest talking to the person at your local co-op in the weed dept. The reason is there are forms of 2,4-D that are highly volatile. Which means if you spray and it gets hot it gives off vapors that can travel and kill things. The 2,4-D I use is the Amine version. I think the LV is low volatile and might be ok but would ask a professional first. Otherwise you can buy it at many farm stores. The salesman at a farm store may or may not know much about chemicals. I was looking for a pre-emergent. Was sold some a chemical and told what rate to mix it at. At that rate it did work but it is really a full fledged chemical. It didn't kill anything but turned a lot of things yellow, stunted them for a year and curled the leaves. I've used a lot of 2,4-D back when I was spraying. But mainly the amine version and they have so many new ones now. Jay

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 5:32AM
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Good points, you guys. I think I may talk to the guy at the Ag Office about it. I was looking at the Amine version, but I want to be sure it doesn't go lethal for anything else, including the sheep.

Dawn, I don't mind the regular thistles, but what was called 'star thistle' in the west is another creature entirely. It's a straggly grayish thing that's only about 12" tall with a small yellow blossom (maybe 12-18 of them on a plant) but below the blossom is the mess that causes the problem. It consists of about ten 1" long needle spikes that can penetrate anything and everything. Clothing, a cow's stomach or horse's mouth, or whatever. It's truly nasty stuff, thrives in drought, and it spreads like wildfire. It's listed as a noxious weed in 23 states, and if it does get started, it takes at least 3 years to eradicate it. If I never see it again it will be too soon.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 6:28PM
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1 cup 2-4-D, 1 cup Roundup or generic glyphosate. I use ag grade chems, not those watered-down lawn/garden ones. 1/4 cup of crop oil. 25-30 gallons of water.
If your ragweed had flowered, omit the glyphos and add 1/3 cup of dicamba [Banvel or Clarity]. Same amount of everything else.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 2:29AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I know star thistle has been found in Oklahoma, but I've never seen it in our county, and I'm glad. It sounds awful with those big old spines.

I googled it and looked at it, and decided if I saw it from a distance, I'd still think it was pretty because of the yellow flowes (maybe my brain is addled by heat and drought and because I'm missing the usually abundant wildflowers), but I wouldn't like it once I saw it up close and saw those long, sharp spines!

I don't even see any living, green ragweed here this year, which isn't surprising since almost nothing green remains here except for some tree foliage. Maybe that is one good thing about having such low rainfall this year---maybe it will set back the ragweed some.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 7:24AM
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Thanks, Dawn. I'm showing a photo of the nasty star thistle here for others to see, just in case it should ever turn up. It's very, very invasive and will crowd out everything else and take over. Climate conditions like drought have no effect on it at all. It's poisonous to horses, and harmful to anything else that gets near it, puncturing clothing, skin, animal mouths and intestines and whatever else it can find.. If you ever see it growing on your property, KILL IT before it spreads. I can't over-emphasize just how awful it is.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 4:42PM
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Do NOT play games with this thistle! Use Grazon [but you will have to get a licensed applicator to do it. Grazon is a mixture that contains Tordon [a restricted-use herbicide] and I believe dicamba. Oklahoma does not officially have noxious weed laws as do kansas and other states, except Texas. For decades, thew lack of nioxious weed laws in both Texas and Oklahoma have been the bane of custom harvesters as well as weed control agencies in the states bordering TX and OK.
I can remember a time [before 1984] when Oklahoma did not have musk thistle. It got down here and spread since no laws controlled it. In Kansas, MT will get you fined before wild marijuana on your farm will. I'm SERIOUS here. MT is no laughing matter! Star thistle looks even worse!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 12:23PM
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I'm definitely in agreement. It looks like something that will never be a problem. WRONG. I've seen it take over areas and obliterate everything else in its path. Bare ground with not a single thing growing except star thistle. Aggressive self-seeding doesn't begin to describe it.

Who would ever think that a straggly, ragged thing could cause so much damage. But it does. I was mistaken about its size, since I've only seen it growing in dry fields or abandoned areas where it gets no water. Apparently if it's happy, it can top 5' in height. Our winter storms won't slow it down, since it's thriving in the severe ND and ID climates.

People have talked about blister beetles in alfalfa hay. I don't even want to think about star thistle in grass hay, or any other kind of feed. You wouldn't dare use it in cured hay, although goats will eat it when it's green. The crop would have to be destroyed. Probably burned, to keep it from harming anything and to control the seed spread. It's nasty beyond words. I can't remember who said it's been spotted in OK, or where it was, but anyplace at all is too close..

This is what some of the universities say about it.

"The Yellow star-thistle plant has the ability to create monotypic stands and habitats in the cultivated soil of fields, graded dirt sites, and disturbed natural ecosystem lands. Its colonization eliminates and prevents other plant species from growing, terminating the habitat's biodiversity. Extensive spreading monotypic fields of yellow starthistle are not uncommon. Its growth plasticity, competitiveness, preference for the Mediterranean climate, and a lack of natural herbivore enemies and co-evolved species, make it a very successful invader. The plant is an invasive pest in field crops, degrades native plant habitats and natural ecosystems, prevents the grazing of domestic animals in rangelands, and is a physical barrier to indigenous animal movement in wildlands."

"Yellow starthistle has the potential to dramatically reduce crop and forage production, decrease native plant and wildlife habitat, poison horses, and cause severe economic loss in both crop and wildlands."

"Since its introduction to California in the mid-nineteenth century, it has become a large-scale invasive species (noxious weed or invasive exotic) throughout twenty-three states. It currently dominates over 15,000,000 acres in California alone.
By 1970, yellow star-thistle had reached 23 U.S. states. According to the USDA Forest Service, as of 2006 the plant has been reported present in 41 of the 48 contiguous U.S. states, with the only exceptions being Maine, Vermont, and five of the Deep South states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia)." That's 18 more states in only 25 years! It's so noxious that some states have asked farmers and gardeners to call in and report it if they see it growing anyplace at all. Some states have implemented no-cost eradication programs to help farmers deal with it.

Here are a couple more photos of it. It doesn't look so harmful, does it? Guess again!


    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 2:27PM
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I have seen the Yellow Star thistle but only a few plants here and there.

Tomato Worm59 I'm not disputing your statement but I can say I have a few plants of musk thistle show up every year I have to deal with. Never many probably 3-12. And when younger I worked for a few farmers and also on the National Grasslands here. I've always seen it. I've never heard of anyone being fined for it. It is considered like bindweed a major headache if you don't keep a head of it. I've had 5-6 plants this summer. My BIL a farmer/rancher has it in about every pasture of his but not to the point it really causes any problems. Yes like bindweed it is best to keep it under control. Personally I would rather have it than bindweed. I can control it easier. I've applied most of the chemicals commonly used on farms/ranches up to five years ago. My only caution is be careful when using any around your property and especially close to your garden. Many can linger around for a long while. That is why the Round Up,2,4-D and other chemicals commonly sold for home owners is so much of a weaker concentration than what I buy from my local co-op. I was looking just 2 weeks ago. I saw Round UP in small amounts where the concentration was under 20% and as low as 17%. The concentration on what I bought that day was 48%. So one reason that one person will have luck controlling something with it and others won't. 2,4-D concentrations are the same. The concentration I use I only add 5-6 ounces to 100 gallons of water. Jay

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 4:37PM
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Is this ragweed? Think green lobed leaved plant you see in the below picture with sunflower. It is growing crazy, I was thinking it as a wild flower, but after I searched for Ragweed, one of the picture looks similar to plants growing in our flower beds. The leaf arrangement is opposite. Bottom larger leaves have five lobes and smaller in the top have have 3 lobes.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 4:45PM
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Chandra, I can't see anything in there that looks like it, although my eyesight is not the best it could be. Ragweed has a characteristic grayish color, rather than a deep or bright green. The leaves are pretty finely cut.

I just took a photo so you can see what it looks like. It has a heavy root structure that tends to break when you try to pull it, and then more of it sprouts along the broken sections.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 8:26PM
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